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The FDA has issued a warning about the Red Round and Roma tomatoes suspected in the recent Salmonella outbreaks. Allow me to paraphrase:

Be on the look out for the dangerous RED ROUND TOMATO:

Dangerous Red Tomato

And it’s cousin, the RED PLUM/RED ROMA TOMATO:

Dangerous Red Plum/Roma Tomatoes

Both kinds of tomatoes have been implicated in Salmonellosis outbreaks and there could be more. You could be their next victim! Do not be fooled by these familiar produce staples. Seriously. Look out! You are not safe! Duck!

Red Round is most likely to be spotted hanging out with mozzarella cheese, olive oil and basil or lurking between two slices of bread in the company of cheese and deli meats. They are almost guaranteed to be brazenly mingling in large bowls with lettuce, cucumbers, possibly black olives and croutons. Imagine that! Not even trying to hide! Roma tomatoes are almost always traveling in packs, which make them especially dangerous.

For the love, People! These dangerous outlaws could be in your holing up in your crisper right now!

Clearly you must take this seriously as the FDA has gone so far as to use the word implicated and to display these potential offenders mug shots. They’re tomatoes, not terrorists. They’re not exactly assaulting people in parking lots and rubbing up on them. THAT would indeed be strange and cause for concern.

I’m no public defender but I am a fan of the culprits. I feel the need to stand up for the rights of these ostracized produce favorites. Haven’t they already faced enough bias and challenge by insisting to be called a fruit when everyone wants them to be vegetables? Their fruity counterparts won’t even accept them. Are they displayed with the apples and pears? No! They’re always with onions and garlic. Interesting the two with the stinkiest reputation are the only ones open-minded enough to accept tomatoes. Let that be a lesson to us all.

That is why I’m asking you, the people of America, to stand up to the FDA and defend the innocent tomatoes who didn’t ask to be a part of this. Take offense to the word implicate. I mean, it reeks of guilt. I’ve seen enough Law and Order episodes to know everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Also, the mug shots! They won’t stand up in court. How do we know that’s the Red Round tomato that caused the outbreak? I do not see any distinguishing marks such as misshapen stems, blemishes, or yellow spots. Looks like a lot of other tomatoes I might run into at Pike Place Market or Safeway or Whole Foods. Couldn’t it be a case of wrong place, wrong time? And the Romas? Same deal. Don’t they all kind of look alike? Especially when traveling as a pack? Kind of like how no one notices my brother and I look alike until they see us together in person. (And please stop asking if we’re twins. Think about it. He’s a boy. I’m a girl. Even if we were twins we’d be fraternal so there’s no guarantee we’d look alike and certainly not identical. At best we’d maybe look “related” which we are. So…) Where was I going with this? Right…the FDA.

I’m sorry FDA but I think you’re being too rash with your implications. I understand the public wants answers but to make scapegoats out of innocent red rounds and romas is not going to help matters. It reeks of desperation. You could have another law suit on your hand, Buddy!

Good people, open-minded citizens, advocates for justice, I’m looking to you to join my crusade. Please join PRODUCEPeople for Romas & Reds who are Ostracized, Demoralized and Unfairly Charged Everywhere. Stand by your salsas and pasta sauces! Don’t give up on chutney. Caprese salad needs you! One bad apple doesn’t spoil the bunch. Or in this case, a few deathly toxic sandwich fixings shouldn’t spoil the whole pint.

Really now, what are the chances it will happen to you? Oh. That good, huh? Really? Well…that is rather scary. How about we just high five them on our way to the avocados and cucumbers? Whisper a few words of encouragement as they try to pick up the slices of their tarnished reputation. Remind them that chicken gets accused of this crap all the time and everyone still eats it. And spinach is expected to make a full recovery after that whole E. coli scare. (Personally I won’t go near the stuff with a 12-foot fork but that’s in because I have a deep aversion to washing leafy greens.)

Upon further consideration (READ: I just finished the rest of the article) maybe it’s best to leave tomatoes alone for a while. You know…give them space. Some time to reflect. Spend time with their families and publicists. Just light a candle in their honor. Or flip through some of the cookbooks you used to enjoy together. Yeah, that’s what we’ll do. Ban together in silence. They probably don’t want the additional media attention now anyway.

Shelly Mazzanoble

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